I hope you are sitting down.
According to British newspaper The Telegraph, doctors in Great Britain will begin screening middle-aged men and women to determine their risk of dementia, and will inform patients of their “brain age” and how it compares to their chronological age in hopes of steering them to healthier life-style decisions. The computerized test has been devised by Public Health England (PHE) and follows last month’s decision by PHE to pay doctors a 55 pound bonus for each patient the docs diagnose with dementia in the next five months. I don’t know about you, but to me a 55 pound bonus (it works out to 880 ounces) sounds like a heavy incentive to i.d. dementiacs.
The Telegraph also reports in the same edition that a study conducted by the University of Edinburgh concludes that short men are at higher risk than tall men for death from dementia.
Before I go any further, excuse me while I suggest the following to all you short little s.o.b.’s out there who are the slightest bit confused about where you are supposed to be this afternoon: RUN LIKE YOU STOLE SOMETHING. And if your spouse cuddles up and suggests a doctor visit for a little testie-poo, RUN FASTER, because you are up doo-doo creek without a paddle.
I am certain it is only a matter of a few months, nay, weeks, before this insidious plot to kill or institutionalize every person over the age of fifty migrates to the United States. History demonstrates that anything originating in the U.K. eventually makes its way across the Atlantic. To name a few examples in chronological order: The Beatles, William Penn(no kin to Sean), Single Malt Scotch, W(h)ales, Beefeater Gin, Piers Morgan, Mad Cow Disease, Happy Cow Disease, Ambivalent Cow Disease, Dipsomania, and Phantasmagoria. I could go on.
Now that we know red-blooded, quinquagenarian Americans are being targeted by these “tests,” we can assume their older siblings who are still sexy (sexagenarians), born in September (septuagenarians), related to octopi or squids (octogenarians), and those who don’t know how the hell old they are (nonagenarians), will be under the gun as well.
What do we do? I am glad you asked. I have devised a game plan. There are certain steps you should take, AND TAKE THEM NOW.
1. Destroy all birth certificates. The paper ones in your possession are easy enough. For your bank, credit card, and online accounts, begin a systematic purge of your old date of birth and enter a new one. I would suggest that you edit your d.o.b. to make yourself 24 years old. For those of you with white hair and whiskers, no teeth or prostate gland, tell the medical professional you were in a bad car wreck and haven’t been the same since. While the nurse or clerk is writing, hum Hoobastank’s “The Reason,” and pepper your conversation with “you know” and “cool.” Above all, do not make eye contact.
2. Act ignorant. Everyone knows most young Americans are woefully uneducated. If you are asked to name the President or a member of the Supreme Court, just say Al Gore or Rick James. They will think you are young and dumb, not demented.
3. Steal a copy of the dementia test. Of course, this is the best way to prepare for the questions. I recommend you hire a Russian or a Chinese Communist to hack into the PHE database and download the exam. When the test is imported into the U.S., it is important to spell your answers in American. Do not use the British spelling of these words, lest they discover your clever ruse: colour, civilise, kerb, behaviour, cheque, gaol, and of course, my favorite, arse.
4. Have surgery to make you taller. Since docs will be on the lookout for short little demented geezers, have the simple surgical procedure whereby your legs are broken and high quality PVC pipes used to extend the length of your leg bones. This can be done on an outpatient basis.
5. Develop a hearing problem. If you are a target of these dementia hunters, you are of an age where it would not be odd for you to sport hearing aids in your hairy, large lobed ears. Even if you can hear a rat wee-weeing on cotton at fifty feet, get some of the old, gigantic aids and stick them in your ears when you are being tested. When the doc says “Take off your shirt,” respond with “Who is Jacob Burt?”
If these time-tested strategies fail, give me a call at the number I gave you yesterday. You remember it, don’t you?
Michael Henry is a writer in Oxford. A graduate of Tulane and Virginia Law School, Henry published his seventh novel, Finding Ishmael, in April 2014.